Remembering music muse in all his glory

Friends and family of the late stage legend, Salie Daniels. Pictured, at back, from left, are Nur Abrahams and Loukmaan Adams.In the middle are Zenobia Daniels, Terry Hector, Niesha Abrahams and Giempie Vardien. In front is Terry Fortune.

Shiny shoes, an impeccable dress sense, good humour and humility, these are just a few of the things stage legend Salie Daniels is remembered for.

Mr Daniels’ life was a musical journey and it will be celebrated in a show produced by his daughter Zenobia Daniels, from Rocklands.

Tribute to The Kat will be staged at the Joseph Stone Auditorium in Athlone and Rockwell Theatre in Green Point later this month.

Mr Daniels, who died in 1999, was the star of the original Kat and the Kings musical production and the show was based on his memories. He was also an original member of The Rockets.

He had a unique baritone voice and always used jokes and songs to remind his family and friends to look on the light side of life.

“He had a deep bassy Lindt chocolatey sound, which no one could replicate,” reminisced friend and fellow performer, Terry Fortune.

Athlone News met Ms Daniels and some of her father’s most dear friends, star performers Mr Fortune, Terry Hector, Niesha Abrahams and Giempie Vardien. They all described him as a legend and said he was more humble than anyone else they knew.

With his striking blue eyes and a smile on his face, he would request a cup of tea by song, recalled Ms Abrahams.

Mr Vardien and Mr Hector were both a few years younger than Mr Daniels but said once they reached their 20s, it was no longer “uncle” or “Boeta Salie”, rather “ons is tjommies”.

Mr Hector said he was just a young boy when he met Mr Daniels at the Star bioscope in District Six in the 1950s.

The Rockets released the original song Enchantment in 1957.

“Salie them use to sing harmonies.

“They liked, encouraged and empowered me to perform,” he said.

Mr Vardien said Mr Daniels was his mentor.

“He was like a radio.

“We use to say ‘gooi ’* nommer’. He’ll sing a song and tell us what to sing,” he said.

“Hy maak soema sy eie tricks. He knew how to play music, his instrument was his voice,” said Mr Vardien.

Mr Daniels was also in David Kramer and the late Taliep Petersen’s original District Six, the musical in 1987; Fairyland in 1990, and Klop Klop in 1996.

He received the FNB Vita National Theatre Award for performer of the year in musical theatre as Kat Diamond in the 1995 production, Kat and the Kings. They toured South Africa, performed at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn in 1997 and at the Vaudeville Theatre of West End, both in London, the following year.

His final performances abroad were at the Cort Theatre of Broadway, in New York City.

Mr Daniels won a Laurence Olivier Award in London in 1998 and when he returned to Cape Town, he was diagnosed with bone cancer.

On the eve of Mr Daniels’ death, he received the first arts, culture and heritage award, in recognition of his outstanding achievement and contribution to the performing arts, from the national Department of Arts and Culture in 1999. He died at Groote Schuur Hospital in July 27 that year.

Ms Daniels said she has inherited the best traits of her father and mother, Zubeida Daniels. Her parents use to perform together, with her father singing and her mother dancing. “There was always a jovial vibe in our home,” she said.

Mr Daniels was born in District Six, moved to Kensington, then to Lentegeur and finally settled in Rocklands.

“He was a real special person, who brought a lot of life and emotion to his characters,” said Ms Daniels.

For the Tribute to The Kat show, the Rockets of the 1950s will be brought back to life by five young entertainers from Mitchell’s Plain, Salt River and Gugulethu. The show will also star Mr Vardien; The A2 duo who sing songs by Peaches and Herb; as well as Edwil Meyer who does cover versions of Lady Morgana songs.

* Tribute to The Kat will be staged at the Joseph Stone Auditorium, corner of Protea Street and Klipfontein Road, Athlone, on Friday September 23, at 8pm; and the Rockwell Theatre, 32 Prestwich Street, Green Point, on Saturday September 24, at 8pm.

Tickets cost R120 if you pre-book and R150 at the door.

For more information call Ms Daniels on 061 167 0135, SMS 074 185 2971, 082 896 0136 or visit the Facebook page Zeeproductions5.